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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Richard 3
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0342.  Tuesday, 11 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Nancy N. Doherty <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Mar 1997 18:53:20 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0339 Qs: Richard 3

[2]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Mar 1997 23:36:53 +0200
        Subj:   Richard 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy N. Doherty <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Mar 1997 18:53:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0339 Qs: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0339 Qs: Richard 3

Just some thoughts as a director and teacher - acting and the text...

RIII's tragedy, historically, has it's seeds in RII.  RII is responsible
for the death of his Uncle, thereby gaining his crown; Henry IV is
responsible for the murder of RII, thereby securing his crown; thus
begins the 100 years war, resulting in RIII's death at the hand of Henry
VII.

Yet, we do not view RII or Bolingbroke as inherently evil or
"deformed".  It seems your issue gets blurred between evil represented
as deformity and evil for evil's sake.  Is Buckingham evil? He certainly
makes R's rise to power possible yet he has a line he won't cross
regarding the princes.

Text is subject to interpretation - I suggest the following - in my case
to give my students a possible glimpse into R's soul - in his second
scene with Lady Anne he states "I'll have her, but I'll not keep her
long"  It is possible since he is aware of his own limitations, knows
she may regret her acquiescence, and is realistic about it, that R is
making a statement about his intentions, but about his knowledge that
she will not be with him long once she realises what she has done.   My
possible alternative looks at R as one with a soul - why else feel
sympathy - why else have the ghost scene and his lack of  finesse with
Elizabeth - we can't just gloat over his demise...can we?

His deformity was historic - Shakespeare may have exaggerated for effect
- it's much more interesting that way. But, can you ignore the history
to plead your case?

A note on your "Silence of the Lambs" comment.  Anne supposedly was a
ward in R's household as they were growing up - What does one covet?
One covets the thing which one sees everyday and can not have....

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Mar 1997 23:36:53 +0200
Subject:        Richard 3

I consider you right on target; your friend incorrect.  See Intro. to
David Bevington's edn. of the play in his complete Sh. 1980, 1992.
Platonic doctrine says that body apes the soul.  Hence evil comes first
and Richard's warped body reflects and symbolizes it.  You might remind
your colleague that the Romantic movement was the first time the
disabled were pitied rather than dishonored.  Before then "funny as a
crutch" was the rule of thumb.  Few if any laughed at Franklin D.
Roosevelt; many laughed at hunchbacks like our Richard.  The Romantics
and Victorians introduced the sentimental interest in the unfortunate-
by-birth.  Before that they were often objects of scorn or laughter,
probably for "Platonic" reasons: id est "if he is crooked he must have a
crooked soul, so I scorn him." (Note that this cultural assumption about
body and soul also lies behind the belief that beautiful people are
good. "There once was a beautiful girl . . .")  In R's first solil.
"determined to prove a villain" can mean either "predetermined . . ." or
"bound and determined  . . ."  Prob. Shak.  means something of both.
"Since I am predetermined to be a villain, I will be the most villainous
villain I can manage to be."

Cheers,
John Velz
 

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